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Typhoon Hagupit may hit Eastern Visayas by Saturday; residents urged to prepare


(Updated 2:30 p.m.) Although it is still too far to affect the Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit is expected to make landfall in Eastern Visayas by Saturday afternoon or early evening, according to PAGASA.
 
In its 11 a.m. update on Wednesday, PAGASA said the typhoon was estimated at 1,610 km east of Davao City as of 8 a.m., with maximum winds of 140 kph and gustiness of 170 kph. It is projected to move west-northwest at 30 kph.
 
In a televised press conference, PAGASA forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said that Hagupit is still on track to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Thursday, at which point it will be given the local storm designation, "Ruby."
 
He said that there is a "60%-40%" chance in favor of Hagupit heading toward Eastern Visayas, or veering off toward Japan.
 
"(Pero) mas mataas ang tsansa na ito ay mag-landfall," Aurelio said.

However, as of 2:30 p.m., a closer look at data from previous typhoons led PAGASA to increase its estimation of the likelihood of landfall to 75%.

NDRRMC's full attention

As this developed, Malacañang assured the public that the government is giving its full attention to preparations for Hagupit's arrival.

In a text message, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is working toward minimizing casualties due to the weather disturbance.

"Todo tutok ang NDRRMC at ang mga lokal na yunit nito upang maging ganap ang paghahanda ng mga komunidad at mamamayan at matamo ang layuning zero casualties," Coloma said.
 
Visayans urged to prepare
 
Current forecasts indicate Hagupit is most likely to hit Eastern Visayas either Saturday afternoon or early evening, with 160 kph winds and gustiness of up to 190 kph. It is also expected to bring moderate to heavy rain of up to 20 mm per hour, so residents are warned to prepare for possible flash floods and landslides.
 
PAGASA was quick to assure the public that Hagupit would not be as strong as Yolanda, but residents should prepare for Hagupit nevertheless.
 
"Malakas pa rin ang hangin (ni Hagupit). Delikado pa rin 'yan, kahit hindi ito kasing lakas ni Yolanda," Aurelio said.

Tacloban City in Leyte, which was among the areas hit hardest by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, is also bracing for Hagupit, GMA News' Unang Balita said on Wednesday.
 
Local authorities in the province's capital are holding meetings to discuss the preparedness of the city, with people living near the sea as top priority.
 
City officials are also preparing the Tacloban Astrodome, which will again serve as an evacuation center should the area be hit by Hagupit.
 
Possible recurve to Japan
 
On the other hand, there is still the small possibility of Hagupit moving away toward Japan without making landfall.

In this case, according to Aurelio, the outer edge of Hagupit might graze the Bicol region, bringing moderate to heavy rains to western Luzon before heading away.
 
GMA News resident meteorologist Nathaniel "Mang Tani" Cruz said that a high pressure ridge north of the Philippines is influencing Hagupit's westward advance. Should this ridge weaken or dissipate before the weekend, the typhoon would be free to move northward away from the country.
 
"Kung hihina ang high pressure ridge, maaaring lumiko ang Hagupit patungong Japan," Mang Tani said. — with Joel Locsin and Andreo Calonzo/KG/KBK, GMA News
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